Heath Couple Raising Three Children From Ukraine

HEATH, Ohio -- Having three children less than four years apart in age would be challenge enough for any couple, but imagine not having any of them one day then having all three the next.

Alex (L), and Andrew (R), play on a teeter-totter while their mom, Amy Pletcher, pushes their sister, Victoria, on a swing Thursday at their home in Heath. Amy and her husband, Greg, adopted the three siblings a little more than a year ago from Ukraine.

Throw in the fact you are not even able to speak their language, and you can start to understand what the past year has been like for Amy and Greg Pletcher.

The couple adopted three children, now 10, 8 and 6, one year ago from Ukraine.

All three now are fluent in English, and only the oldest, Alex, has a slight accent.

The children are happy, healthy and doing well in school at Licking County Christian Academy.

"God has blessed us," Amy Pletcher said. "It feels like we've had them the whole time."

The Pletchers wanted to have children as soon as they were married in 1998, but that didn't happen because of medical conditions.

Amy is diabetic, and Greg has epilepsy. The doctors advised against children.

So the couple turned to God and asked for a sign.

He sent many, Amy said. She attended two concerts where the artists advocated for adoption.

She also read a Guideposts magazine and kept flipping to articles about the need for adoptions.

So in December 2009, they looked into adoption, both domestic and internationally.

After research, the couple decided to go internationally, specifically from Ukraine.

"Adoption laws in the U.S. focus on the birth family, and we had a genuine fear that in five years some long-lost relative would show up and want the kids," Greg Pletcher said.

"We just felt it was better to go internationally."

They traveled to Ukraine in December 2010 with the intentions of adopting a girl and a boy.

They came home in February 2011 with three siblings, Alex; Andrew, 7; and Victoria, 5.

"Once we saw their portfolios, we knew we wanted to meet them," Greg said.

"But we still didn't know what we were getting into."

"The first six months were chaotic," Amy added.

"We had no clue how to parent. We had read books, but it's not the same."

What they found were three children who Amy thinks are spitting images of themselves.

Alex has blue eyes like Amy and the same nose, and Andrew and Victoria look more like Greg with his brown eyes.

The younger two have signs of fetal alcohol syndrome, but experts at Children's Hospital say with continual love and guidance the children should be able to adapt and have normal futures.

"Just getting them out of the neglect and abuse they had suffered is helping them," Amy said.

Andrew and Victoria were living in one orphanage, and Alex was living at a boarding school about two hours away.

They were apart for about 18 months before they were reunited. Victoria did not remember Alex.

"No, she didn't remember me," Alex said. "She cried."

Alex said he remembers his birth mother coming home drunk and jumping off a balcony twice, breaking her arm.

Their apartment was the size of the Pletchers' living room.

So how does he like his life now?

"Good," Alex said. "I like my (new) mom and dad."

For the first four years of his life, Alex was raised by his great-grandmother.

The Pletchers were able to meet her while they were in Ukraine.

Through an interpreter, she told the Pletchers her prayers that the children would be cared for had been answered.

Within two weeks of their return from Ukraine, the children had their medical exams at Children's Hospital and became U.S. citizens.

Even though the language barrier is almost non-existent now, challenges remain for the family, including the balancing act many families face in juggling busy schedules, school, sports and getting dinner ready on time.

There also is their inexperience of being parents, Greg said, but they are catching up in that area.

"We still have trouble at bedtimes," Amy said.

"Victoria can't sleep in her own bed. She never had her own bedroom, and she slept with nine to 12 girls in a bedroom at the orphanage. When she gets up at night, she sleeps with either one of us."

But after the most monumental year in their lives, would the Pletchers do it all over again?

"Absolutely," Amy said. "No doubt in our minds."

Source: Newark Advocate


Hirschmanns said…
What a great story. The Pletcher's journey is very similar to our's. We adopted our three children in 2009 and much in the same (zero kids to three in an instant, 3 kids in 3 years age span, splitting images, etc). Congratulations and best wishes to the Pletchers!